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Cases against CNRP are making progress

Former CNRP leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy at a rally in 2014, before the former was jailed, the latter went into exile and their party was dissolved.
Former CNRP leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy at a rally in 2014, before the former was jailed, the latter went into exile and their party was dissolved. Heng Chivoan

Cases against CNRP are making progress

Court cases and investigations involving former Cambodia National Rescue Party officials are continuing apace, with new charges laid against opposition leader Sam Rainsy, another appeal for bail filed on behalf of jailed party leader Kem Sokha and a National Police spokesman saying yesterday that the government is keeping a close eye on banned CNRP officials.

Rainsy was officially charged yesterday with inciting and demoralising the military, after he encouraged security forces to “disobey” orders to “kill innocent people” in a Facebook post in December.

Sam Sokong, one of Rainsy’s lawyers, said that Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Sieng Sok informed him Rainsy was charged under articles 471 and 472 of the Criminal Code. Court spokesman Ly Sophana confirmed the charges.

Article 471 outlaws “inciting military personnel to be disobedient”, while Article 472 forbids “demoralisation of military personnel”.

Both charges carry prison sentences of two to five years and fines of 4 million to 10 million riel (about $1,000-$2,500).

Hun Sen called the comments a “declaration of war” and threatened to sue him for treason. Rainsy has been living in France since 2015 in order to avoid a host of convictions and ongoing cases against him.

Separately, National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said yesterday that ongoing investigations into 118 former CNRP officials banned from politics in a November Supreme Court decision would be of a broad criminal scope. That court decision also saw the main opposition party dissolved.

“We just keep our eyes on them,” he said, noting that any infractions would result in evidence being sent to court for prosecution. The police were previously ordered to look into the finances of the officials.

Meanwhile, Pheng Heng, a lawyer for jailed former opposition leader Kem Sokha, said his legal team has filed an appeal of a decision on Sokha’s bail, following denial at the appeal and supreme courts last year.

Sokha was arrested in a midnight raid on September 3 and is facing “treason” charges for allegedly colluding with foreign powers to overthrow the government.

“[The judge’s] decision is not reasonable,” Heng said.

In the submission, Sokha’s lawyers ask the investigative judge to interview a representative of the US government for information. The only piece of evidence presented publicly thus far is a 2013 video in which Sokha discusses receiving political advice from the US.

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